Read through Coronavirus

I’m a writer of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, with a day job teaching English. Being an English teacher means you can live virtually anywhere in the world and make a living of one kind or another, especially with a little supplemental income from selling books. I left my birthplace, a grim mining town in the drizzly North of England, and with a few stops along the way ended up in Italy. I’ve been here, teaching and writing, for around a decade now, and feel blessed that I was able to make the move, but... things have changed lately...

Photo courtesy of Kooky Photography.

I live in Venice, which is normally a joy, but right now being located in North Italy is a little uncomfortable. That’s because of the outbreak of coronavirus, which has hit North Italy particularly hard, as anyone with a TV will be aware of. Terrifying pictures of army trucks transporting coffins, of empty streets, and of exhausted doctors and nurses in packed IC units are currently acting as a warning to the world about what this pandemic is capable of. Thankfully Venice hasn’t been as hard hit as Lombardy, but social distancing is very much necessary here. I would argue that it also time for the UK and USA to go into lock down, and probably almost everywhere else across the world.We all have to just sit at home and wait this thing out.

Sitting alone in your house is no fun, believe me. Italy has been under lock down for a couple of weeks now and there is no end in sight, so I know all about it. One of the worst aspects is that worrying about what is going to happen, whether you or somebody you know is going to get coronavirus can become an obsession. Some people are going to be able to cope better than others, but I think it is very important for everyone, for their mental health, to find distractions. The obvious first port of call is Netflix, but after you have binged everything there, where do you go next?

Books, my friend, that’s the answer to taking your mind off what is happening in the world. And now is a good time to stock up for the long hall (ebooks are one of the few commodities where it is okay to do some panic buying) because of the Authors Give Back sale. It is taking place exclusively at the Smashwords Store for 30 days. It started Friday, March 20 and it is running through Thursday, April 20, 2020. I’m telling you about it because I have asked Smashwords to include my books in the promotion. And it’s not just my books. The stories I've written are ripsnorters, that's true, but you may not be into sci-fi, fantasy, or horror. Don’t worry. Thousands of other Smashwords authors and publishers are providing readers with deep discounts on ebooks in all kinds of genres. Discounts range from 30%-off to 60%-off, and some titles are even FREE.

This sale is a direct result of several Smashwords authors who suggested it. I wasn’t one of them, I’m just jumping on the bandwagon, but I totally agree with the sentiments. These indie authors wanted to support readers around the world who face unprecedented anxiety, economic hardship, and social isolation as the world community fights to stem the spread of the Covid-19 virus. More than ever, ebooks are vital to give readers unlimited hours of low-cost entertainment, excitement, distraction, and comfort during these trying times.

The Authors Give Back sale catalog is already live on the Smashwords home page. Readers can browse the catalog and do searches based on discount levels and genre. The catalog is not due to disappears until 11:59pm Pacific time on April 20, 2020. Let’s hope the worst of the pandemic is over by then.

The discounts are exclusive to Smashwords and cannot be found at any other retailers. There's no need to remember coupon codes because you receive the discount automatically by adding a book to your cart. Smashwords sales events usually draw tens of thousands of readers to the Smashwords Store looking to take advantage of these exclusive deals, but I have a feeling this sale is going to be bigger and more important than any they have ever held before.

As a reader that’s all you really need to know, but Smashwords did share one other tidbit with me that made me raise an eyebrow. It seems that the books in the sale are ranked by how well they are doing in the sale, rather than any general popularity rank they might have across the site. With each purchase or download of a participating book, the books' rank rises within the shelves, thereby making that book more discoverable to the next reader.

So, in order to help my books to the holy grail of discoverability within the Smashwords algorithm, here is a direct link to one of my books that I think is perfect for these post-apocalyptic times. It’s counterintuitive but when one of the most listened to tracks on iTunes is It’s the End of the World as We Know It by REM and one of the most popular movies to stream is Contagion, I think the book I have written that people are going to get the biggest kick out of is Death Sense.

The cities are first to fall, huge urban centers like San Francisco descending into chaos in just a few days, but this book takes place far away in the coastal redwood forests of Northern California. As each of the last bastions of society crumbles, the people of the area must more and more confront the possibility that they – and other small groups in the hinterlands around the globe – are the last humans left alive in the world. Death Sense is a novel about the constant battle against the end of the world brought on a tide of zombies, but there is also space for human relationships. People who would never otherwise meet are forced together, and their feelings are felt intensely, sometimes hate and sometimes love.

Buy Death Sense as part of the Authors Give Back sale.